Richmond oil storage company fined $160,000 over leak into SF Bay – The Mercury News

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MARTINEZ — A petroleum storage company has agreed to pay fines totaling $160,000 and to undergo a multi-million dollar repair of a tank that leaked oil into the San Francisco Bay, court records show.

The Houston-based company Kinder Morgan Liquids Terminals LLC agreed to the fine Sept. 6, the same day the Contra Costa District Attorney filed a civil complaint against the company. It all stems from a May 2016 spill into the Santa Fe Channel, located next to Kinder Morgan’s storage facility in the Richmond harbor.

Authorities don’t know exactly how much oil spilled into the bay, but estimate it was less than 100 gallons. The hazmat services wing of the county’s health services department inspected the facility in June and discovered a secondary containment unit was leaking oil into the ground, which was then making its way into the bay.

According to the company’s website, Kinder Morgan’s Richmond facility has 136 tanks and the capacity to store 639,271 barrels. The facility has a dock for the loading and unloading of petroleum products from tanker ships.

“We are pleased to resolve this dispute on terms that will allow the development of a special environmental project for the benefit of the citizens of Richmond and Contra Costa County,” said Melissa Ruiz, a spokeswoman for Kinder Morgan.

Of the $160,000 fine, $15,000 will go to an environmental protection fund, $67,500 goes to county health services, and a total of $77,500 goes to the DA’s office, both as a civil penalty and as reimbursement for the cost of the investigation. If the company fails to fix the faulty tank by the end of September, it will be fined $5,000 per day until the repairs are complete.

The DA’s office — primarily an instrument for criminal prosecutions — has a unit that investigates environmental violations and occasionally files civil actions. Sometimes cases are filed from citizens’ tips about illegal dumping, oil spills, or illegal business practices, which can be made by calling the county’s consumer protection unit at 925-957-8604.

“One of the primary goes of the environmental unit of the DA’s office is to ensure environmental compliance by all businesses big or small, so as to protect the environment and the citizens of Contra Costa County,” prosecutor Stacey Grassini said. “In this case Kinder Morgan was very cooperative and took responsibility for their action. They immediately cleaned the release, they identified the cause, and they agreed to fix the problem so it won’t happen again in the future.”



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